The Ozone Layer

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Photo Credit: NASA

The ozone layer is a protective layer around the Earth that absorbs harmful ultraviolet radiation (UV-B) from the sun. The ozone layer is made up of a high concentration of ozone (O3) in the stratosphere, 20-30 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. The ozone layer is an invisible shield around the earth that absorbs UV-B rays. UV-B is what causes sunburns and a long exposure to UV-B can severely damage most living organisms.

How ozone protects us? Ozone is made up of 3 oxygen molecules (O3). When the ozone absorbs UV-B it prevents it from reaching the ground and harming us.

Can we run out of Ozone? As the ozone molecule absorbs UV-B it breaks the ozone molecule apart into an oxygen molecule (O2) and a single oxygen atom (O). This cycle of ozone being destroyed and created happens all the time. There is another ultraviolet light called UV-C. UV-C is completely absorbed by the oxygen molecules (O2). UV-C breaks apart the oxygen molecule into 2 single oxygen atoms. At this point the single oxygen atoms react with other oxygen atoms and create ozone. This process helps create more and more ozone to help protect us from the ultraviolet rays.

Now some UV-B rays do reach the surface and we keep track of that by the UV-Index. When the UV-Index is high make sure you apply sunscreen to your skin to help keep you protected.

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